Special Motorsports Event - Toyota Driver Comments Champions Week
Las Vegas, Nov. 28, 2012: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS): Camry drivers Clint Bowyer (second), Denny Hamlin (sixth) and Martin Truex Jr. (11th) competed in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup … Kyle Busch (13th), Joey Logano (17th) and Bobby Labonte (23rd) also ended the season in the top-25 in the final point standings … In 2012, Toyota drivers increased the number of race tracks where the Camry has visited victory lane in the NSCS to 21 of 23 facilities … Denny Hamlin claimed the first win at Kansas Speedway for the Camry -- leaving only two race tracks where Toyota still seeks a NSCS trophy (California's Auto Club Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway) … The Camry had its 200th NSCS start in August (Indianapolis) … Matt Kenseth will join Joe Gibbs Racing to drive the No. 20 Camry in 2013 … Brian Vickers will run nine races in the No. 55 Camry for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2013 … The next Toyota NSCS win will be the 50th since joining the series in 2007.
CLINT BOWYER, No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing What does it mean to finish second in point standings? "It's huge -- to end up second in points and beat guys like Jimmie Johnson to do it. There's several races -- had I had to do over again -- I wish they would've been different. Talladega was the biggest one. We just got behind at Talladega and never could really bounce back. I'm proud of everybody, because we were there all season long."Did you think finishing second was possible when you moved to Michael Waltrip Racing? "You just hope to run that good and hope to land with a good family and a good team. Everybody at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) -- all three of these cars -- Martin Truex (Jr.), Mark Martin and I are just fortunate to drive these race cars. Good cars each and every week. Like I said, it's a long, hard road, this season is and it feels good to finally be over with."
BRIAN VICKERS, No. 55 Toyota Camry, Michael Waltrip Racing Why did you decided to run another partial schedule with MWR in 2013? "For me, staying with MWR was a conscious decision to try to be in the best position to win races and be with the best team that I thought I could do that with. There's a lot of factors that are involved in that -- from the manufacturer to the team to the owner to the sponsors to the crew chief and just blatant chemistry. Obviously, it's more than just building fast race cars, which MWR does and Toyota is delivering great engines right now and a lot of support. The chemistry I have with Rodney (Childers, crew chief) is unprecedented for me in my career. I've never had anything like it and that's the kind of results that I want to continue having."
MICHAEL WALTRIP, owner, Michael Waltrip Racing How much does it mean to your organization to finish second in the point standings? "I'm glad we finished second in the points. Clint Bowyer and Brian Pattie (crew chief) and all of these guys on this team - - it's been so much fun to be a part of. We thought when we started 2012 that we were going to be a lot better than we had ever been before. I see a lot of smiles around from folks wearing MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing) shirts and that's a great feeling."
What has been your favorite part of having drivers compete for a championship? "To be so close and to see how much excitement and enthusiasm it puts in everyone's spirit -- it's so fun. I love it. I've never even glimpsed it before and now I've got to see if first hand. We exceeded expectations in 2012 at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing). So, you know what you do then? You reset your expectations. So, we'll have to say we've got to win something next year -- maybe be the champions next year. Certainly wouldn't be unrealistic I don't think, whereas if we said that coming into this year you would've thought I was really crazy."
MATT KENSETH, No. 20 Home Depot/Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Are you excited about joining Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013? "It's a big honor to come race for Joe Gibbs Racing. I'm really looking forward to working with Denny (Hamlin) and Kyle (Busch) both. They're both at the top of their game, they're both winners and that puts a lot of pressure on you to be able to go run like those guys do. It's a great opportunity. I've been blessed my whole career -- I've been 15 years at RFR (Roush Fenway Racing) and it's been a competitive organization. We've won some races and done some great things there. Really looking forward to this opportunity -- the next chapter of my career and going and trying to win more races and try to win a championship. This is a championship team and I'm really excited to be part of it."
NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS): After 33 NNS races in 2012, Mike Bliss (eighth) was the top Toyota driver in the NNS point standings … Brian Scott (ninth) also finished in the top-10 in points … Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 18 Camry team earned their fourth NNS owner's championship earning a total of nine wins … JGR will field full-time NNS entries in 2013 for drivers Elliott Sadler and Brian Vickers … The next Toyota NNS win will be the 75th since joining the series in 2007.
JOEY LOGANO, No. 18 GameStop Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing How would you describe the 2012 NNS season? "It was an amazing season for sure. To win nine races is unreal to me -- the most I ever won was five in a season. To go to the race track and you know you have a shot to win at every single race track you go to is really awesome. And obviously driving for Joe (Gibbs, team owner) and J.D. (Gibbs, team president) since I was 15, I've been going to that Nationwide shop and seeing those guys there, and it's where I got my first shot to drive one of these cars. To go out there and lead the charge of trying to get out there and win the owner's championship, I wanted it bad. I was like, 'Man, want to get this owner's championship for them before I have to go.' It's definitely a huge accomplishment for everybody in that shop, both on the 18 and the 20 team, to go out there and do it."
BRIAN SCOTT, No. 11 Dollar General Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing How do you feel about your time at Joe Gibbs Racing? "I can't rave enough about Joe Gibbs Racing. They provided me with a great opportunity for two years and put really competitive cars under us. For a number of reasons, I regret leaving there. I regret that I wasn't able to get them in victory lane. I learned a lot. This was just a stepping stone in my career and I'm going to grow over the next couple years. Joe Gibbs Racing was a great place that nurtured my talents and progress them forward."
KYLE BUSCH, team owner, Kyle Busch Motorsports How was the first NNS season for Kyle Busch Motorsports? "The second half of the year, I tell you man, these guys made some huge gains and we were phenomenal. I just can't say enough about all of the work that they put into this thing and everybody that works so hard to give us good equipment -- all of the guys in the chassis shop and the body guys."
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS): In 22 NCWTS races in 2012, Timothy Peters (second) was the top Toyota driver in the NCWTS points standings … Tundra drivers Parker Kligerman (fifth), Matt Crafton (sixth) and Johnny Sauter (ninth) also finished in the top-10 in the points … Since entering the NCWTS in 2004, Toyota drivers have tallied 99 victories and 86 pole positions … The next Toyota NCWTS win will be the 100th since joining the series in 2004.
PARKER KLIGERMAN, No. 7 Toyota Tundra, Red Horse Racing How will you remember the 2012 season? "There are two parts to my season. There were 11 races at BKR (Brad Keselowski Racing) and 11 races here at Red Horse Racing. If I'd done what I did here (at Red Horse Racing) in these last 11 races in the first 11 races -- we'd be the champs right now by a long shot. I'm proud of all these guys. Chad (Kendrick, crew chief) and all these guys on this team do a great job. When I left that other deal (at BKR) my career didn't have a lot of promise and these guys put the fun back in racing and gave me a lot of promise. I can't thank them enough."